Yves Herman / Pool via AP
This year’s G-20 summit began on Saturday with a call for world leaders to create a comprehensive response to the coronavirus pandemic.
King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who hosted the two-day virtual meeting, welcomed initiatives by G-20 nations to invest $ 21 billion in global efforts to combat the pandemic and $ 11 trillion for to strengthen the global economy.
King Salman urged leaders to expand efforts to provide access to vaccines and treatments as well as bend the economies of developing countries devastated by the economic effects of COVID-19.
“We have a duty to take up the challenge together during this summit and give our people a strong message of hope and reassurance through the adoption of policies to alleviate this crisis,” King Salman said in his remarks.
Next to the summit, world leaders met for a side event called “Pandemic Preparedness and Response.” Other leaders reiterated King Salman’s sentiments for a concerted response to the effects of the pandemic.
“The only effective response to the pandemic will be a coordinated, global response based on solidarity,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the pandemic “a global challenge” which “could only be overcome with a global effort.”
This is the second time this year that the G-20 is meeting almost to discuss the pandemic. Back in March, the Associated Press reports, executives held an emergency meeting as the pandemic began to take hold.
This time, when G-20 leaders meet, countries around the world are experiencing increases in new infections, with confirmed cases approaching 58 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Governments have reintroduced lockdowns and curfews.
The World Health Organization said Friday that more cases have been reported in the last four weeks than the first six months of the pandemic.
At least three of the participants in this year’s summit had been diagnosed with the virus: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and President Trump.
A day before the summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said an additional $ 28 billion would be required for mass production, procurement and distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the globe.
Guterres called on the G-20 nations to take part in the international initiative to distribute vaccines worldwide, called COVAX. President Trump refused to join COVAX. President-elect Joe Biden has not said whether he will join it.
In a statement, the White House said Trump highlighted to his other world leaders at the G-20 summit that the United States had “marshaled all the resources at its disposal to respond to the crisis.”